United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London
Gregory F. Van Tatenhove, United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court a Recommended Disposition filed by
the United States Magistrate Judge Candace J. Smith. [R.
112.] The Defendant, James William Thomas, first filed a
pro se motion to vacate his sentence pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2255. [R. 99.] Mr. Thomas raises two claims:
(1) he is no longer a career offender under the Sentencing
Guidelines in light of United States v. Johnson, 135
S.Ct. 2551 (2015); and (2) his aggravated assault conviction
from Tennessee state court no longer qualifies as a predicate
offense for his career-offender designation. Id.
Consistent with local practice, Judge Smith reviewed the
motion and prepared a Recommended Disposition. [R. 112.]
considering the record, Judge Smith determined that Mr.
Thomas is not entitled to relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255.
In 2015, the Supreme Court decided United States v.
Johnson, which held that the residual clause of the
Armed Career Criminal Act was unconstitutionally vague. 135
S.Ct. 2551, 2560-63 (2015). Mr. Thomas argues that this means
sentencing guideline § 4B1.2(a), which contains language
identical to the defunct residual clause and under which Mr.
Vaughn was sentenced, is likewise unconstitutionally vague.
However, the Supreme Court held in Beckles that
“the advisory sentencing guidelines are not subject to
a vagueness challenge under the Due Process Clause.”
Beckles v. United States, 137 S.Ct. 886, 895 (2017).
Judge Smith also recommended this Court deny a certificate of
appealability. In light of the clear holding in
Beckles, no reasonable jurist would find it
debatable whether Mr. Ward's petition states a valid
claim for the denial of a constitutional right. Finally, as
Judge Smith noted, the remainder of Mr. Vaughn's
arguments are untimely filed. Johnson v. United
States, 457 Fed.Appx. 462, 464 (6th Cir. 2012) (one-year
limitations period applies to § 2255 motion). Mr.
Vaughn's one-year window in which he could timely file a
§ 2255 petition began in January 2010, but he did not
file the instant petition until June 2016.
Thomas next argues that his conviction for aggravated assault
no longer qualifies as a predicate offense for his career
offender designation. Mr. Thomas relies on Mathis v.
United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016), which held that
Mathis was improperly sentenced under the Armed Career
Criminal Act based on a prior conviction for burglary from
Iowa. Judge Smith likewise concluded that Mr. Thomas was not
entitled to relief in light of Mathis for two
reasons. First, Mr. Thomas's claim was not timely filed.
Despite the fact that Mathis was not decided until
2016, approximately seven years after Mr. Thomas entered his
guilty plea, Mathis did not announce a retroactive
rule of constitutional law. See Dean v. United
States, No. 3:08-cr-19-crs, 2017 WL 9808766 at *3 (W.D.
Ky. Sept. 19, 2017). Second, caselaw from the Sixth Circuit
prevents a defendant from attacking his career-offender
designation by way of a § 2255 motion. See Snider v.
United States, 908 F.3d 183, 189 (6th Cir. 2018),
cert. denied, 139 S.Ct. 1573 (2019)
(non-constitutional challenges not cognizable under §
Mr. Thomas requests an evidentiary hearing. However, the
undersigned agrees with Judge Smith that no hearing is
necessary. As is evident from the record, Mr. Thomas's
§ 2255 motion is clearly without merit.
this Court must make a de novo determination of
those portions of a recommended disposition to which
objections are made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(c). When no
objections are made, however, this Court is not required to
“review . . . a magistrate's factual or legal
conclusions, under a de novo or any other standard . . .
.” Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 150 (1985).
Parties who fail to object to a Magistrate's Report and
Recommendation are also barred from appealing a district
court's order adopting that Report and Recommendation.
United States v. Walters, 638 F.2d 947 (6th Cir.
1981). Nevertheless, this Court has considered the record,
and it ultimately agrees with the Magistrate Judge's
recommendation. Furthermore, the Court declines to issue a
certificate of appealability. The Court determines that
reasonable jurists would not find the denial of Mr.
Thomas's § 2255 motion debatable. See Slack v.
McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000).
and the Court being sufficiently advised, it is hereby
1. Judge Candace J. Smith's Report and Recommendation
[R. 112] as to James William Thomas is
ADOPTED and for the Opinion of the Court;
2. Mr. Thomas's Petition for habeas corpus relief
pursuant to § 2255 [R. 99] is
3. Mr. Thomas's request for an evidentiary hearing
[R. 104] is DENIED;
4. A Certificate of Appealability is DENIED
as to all issues raised by ...